Meet the Cold Snap Bands: Sungaze, Grown Up Kids, and Captain Redbeard & the S.S. Friendship

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In the days leading up to WMSR’s fall concert, Cold Snap, Senior Editor Annie Eyre asked the three performing bands the same five questions about their music, their story, and their performances. Read their answers below so that you can get to know the performers before the show on Saturday, November 16 7 PM.

SUNGAZE

1. In just three adjectives, how would you describe your music?

Atmospheric, emotional, introspective.

2. What artists have inspired your music? In other words, what is your musical lineage?

We pull from a lot of different places! We are most commonly compared to Beach House. 

3. How did your band form? How has it changed since?

It started as a bedroom recording project of Ian’s (guitar, vocals) and when he was building his live band, he asked his girlfriend (now wife), Ivory, to play keys until he found a permanent member. Ivory stayed and now most songs are a collaborative effort between the two. Tyler joined in on drums shortly after and our bassist Jimmy is the newest member.

Stylistically, I’d say our sound has branched out quite a bit from Ian’s Tame Impala obsession, and is now more it’s own thing: a multi-genre blend of new and old. 

4. What makes a good live show?

  • Having a comfortable and relaxed atmosphere
  • When the artist is able to take the listener to another world during their performance
  • Emotional connection and exchange between audience and performer

5. What’s your favorite song to perform?

Our top two are currently “New Familiar” and “Washed Away,” both from our first album. We’ll be performing both!

Bonus/Fun Question: If your sound were a hot beverage, which would it be?

A Golden Turmeric Latte

Grown Up Kids' EP Forego
Grown Up Kids’ EP Forego

GROWN UP KIDS

1. In just three adjectives, how would you describe your music?

Energized and Approachable, yet Unexpected.

2. What artists have inspired your music? In other words, what is your musical lineage?

Definitely Catfish and the Bottleman, Fun., and Young The Giant. Maybe a little Blink 182 or The 1975 seasoned in.

3. How did your band form? How has it changed since?

Our first dream was to play at Brick. We started playing a bunch of alternative and punk covers from the late 90s, like Weezer, Green Day, and Blink (to play 90s night obviously). When we began writing music, though, it changed a ton. Arch kept at the punky alt rock style while Logan brought in some more indie type of stuff. When Ben and Angus joined we really just flew all over the map with some funk and folk splashed in.

4. What makes a good live show?

I [Logan Pipes] think it’s a mix of novelty and familiarity. You want something new or fresh to keep you on your toes. Like a new song or some new lights to give you a new experience. You also want something to hold onto. Maybe some songs that you already know and love. Or maybe that feeling that you could be friends with the band. Just leave the audience feeling and thinking differently than they came. 

5. What’s your favorite song to perform?

Hmmm I think all of us love to play “Forego.” It’s a ton of fun and sounds really good on all of our parts. We each have a chance to show off a little bit too which is sick.

Bonus/Fun Question: If your sound were a hot beverage, which would it be?

Like a double shot mocha. We’re packed with a bit too much energy sometimes, but have that smooth chocolatey taste you all know and love. Oh and with almond milk ‘cause I think Angus is vegan. Idk.


CAPTAIN REDBEARD AND THE S.S. FRIENDSHIP

1. In just three adjectives, how would you describe your music?

Cathartic, genuine, narrative.

2. What artists have inspired your music? In other words, what is your musical lineage?

I [Gage Volbert] basically learned guitar by playing along to the Dashboard Confessional MTV Unplugged album when I was a freshman in high school. There was something magical about hearing a crowd sing every single word to songs that were so “word heavy” and not just traditional pop songs that I wanted to be able to mimic the feeling and the songs. Once I got to college, I fell in love with Kevin Devine—he is a songwriter who made me feel like the songs I was writing alone in my dorm room could be played for other people. I write very narratively and don’t tend to write choruses, so hearing his songs that could be so moving, hooky, while also maintaining some poetic/storytelling structure kind of gave me permission to marry my writings and music I had been writing to each other. A comparison I get a lot to my music is The Front Bottoms, who gave me a reality check in the opposite direction from lyric writing than the other two; their first album was something I listened to on repeat and some of the way they phrased feelings very bluntly stood out to me. Like “oh yeah, why would I spend an entire stanza describing a feeling in some delicate way when I could just give it a name in one line and just save the time.”

I’ve always been a huge sucker for lyrics and am really drawn to artists based on their songwriting, but in recent years, I’ve fallen into cyclical patterns with a lot of artists whose music sounds nothing at all like the music I make. It’s been such a nice change of pace to immerse myself in someone else’s music and then hear bits and parts of it bleed into what I’ve written. A brief list of other bands I’ve listened to a lot within the past year: Hazel English,  Laura Stevenson, Ben Folds, Daughter, Camp Cope, Lizzo, Honeyblood, girl in red, Carly Rae Jepsen, Motion City Soundtrack, Hidden Places, An Horse, and Julien Baker.

3. How did your band form?

I started playing shows solo in February 2016 and happened to meet all my now band members at that first show. But I played for about that first year by myself while I pursued my masters degree. I lucked out during that time to have had a lot of people offer to back me up  and play with me should I ever want to make the full band a reality…once I started getting offered bigger shows as a full band, I asked Cameron, David, and Liam to play with me because I knew that we all clicked as friends and that our priorities lined up with regards to the band being something fun to enjoy together and not take too seriously. 

It’s changed the way that I’ve written songs to have the band. I sort of have to split my brain into the “acoustic singer-songwriter” side and the “frontman of a loud band” side. Because while the songs remain the same, I think the songs should have the integrity to hold up however they’re played. So crafting a song now will require some extra thought to make sure it sounds just as engrossing and interesting acoustic as it might with extra instrumentation. 

Technically we’ve been a band for two years but we’ve still played less than 15 shows. So there hasn’t been a ton of change, but we’ve been working together to structure new songs and write together recently which has been fun. I’ve just been very excited to get to a point where we are able to play and feed off of each other’s energy rather than have a set that is just done by muscle memory and doesn’t have many in the moment flourishes.

4. What makes a good live show?

Personally, when I feel like I’ve played a good live show, I find myself attributing aspects to the show that I always hope to see in other live bands. That boils down to a few different qualities that I’ve had aspirations of meeting since I was in high school and just getting the ability to look up videos of my favorite bands playing on YouTube (it was the mid 2000s and this was such an exciting prospect at the time). From watching those videos, I would watch the same song performed at a bunch of different concerts and find the differences in them and found a love for musicianship that allowed changes in lyrics, melody, or arrangement which made the authenticity of a song pop out. I still have videos I revisit after ten years because the awe it invoked in me the first time I watched it.

So being able to play songs over and over but keeping them fresh both as you play them but also as a listener is big. But also, engaging with the people who have given up their time to spend time listening to something you wrote. Having fun and being able to express an enjoyment in performance also does so much to help people validate the time they’ve chosen to spend with your music. I know that for our full band, it’s some of the most fun I’ve ever had performing and if people will dance along with us or sing a song or two, it greatly adds to the fun of performing.

For acoustic sets, I love hearing people’s feedback after sets of songs or lyrics that have made them reflective. Or hearing a silence fall through the chatter of the room as a dynamic change happens in a song and pulls in the room’s attention. And when I attend acoustic shows, I love to have those moments with songwriters I love and the songwriters I’ve just heard for the first time.

5. What’s your favorite song to perform?

This changes pretty frequently. With the full band we have a new song (it’s still nameless at this point) that we’ve been playing that has a different vibe to it than our other songs so the more we play it, the more it sticks out to me. The song is about how I’ve been going to a lot of my friends weddings in recent years, most times by myself and reflecting on both a monumentally happy day for my friends and the start of a new journey with their partners while also freaking out internally that I’m not at a point in my life where I have felt that joy and love with anyone I’ve encountered yet, and the hope that it is also an experience I’ll have one day. Once I took the idea to the band and explained that I wanted it to sound like a song that you could dance to at a wedding, Cameron suggested we put it to a swing beat which seemed to give it the exact personality I had heard in my head when I wrote it.

When I play acoustic sets, I really like to dig up some songs I rarely play and spend some time with them again. An acoustic song I really love is called “Dallas, TX” which I wrote after a weekend I spent in Dallas a few years ago. I went to visit a friend who ended up getting food poisoning and went to the hospital with her parents, meanwhile, her friends who I didn’t know ended up taking me square dancing at a country concert (which is fully out of my comfort zone) and I felt like I was anchoring down the fun they would have had if I just hadn’t tagged along. The song is a little folkier than I tend to write, but it’s quick, it’s reflective, it’s quiet and ends on what I feel is a relatively hopeful and sweet note compared to most of my other songs.

Bonus/Fun Question: If your sound were a hot beverage, which would it be?

I would hope that my sound would be like Chaider—which is my favorite fall drink. I like to warm up a mug of cider and steep a bag of chai tea in it—it rounds out the sweetness while adding a little spice to the drink. It’s perfect to make as you settle in for an evening on the couch and if you’re feeling up for a little bite, I always recommend a bit of bourbon or caramel vodka to mix in it as well!

You can see all three of these bands perform at Kofenya on Saturday, November 16 at 7 PM.

Check out our previous articles about the music of Sungaze, Grown Up Kids, and Captain Redbeard and the S.S. Friendship.

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